Day Seven – Flaming Gorge

The night before we had packed everything up so we could head out first thing in the morning.  We were heading south to Rock Springs where we would based for two days while riding in the area.  We left early and arrived in Rock Springs around 9:00 a.m. ready to ride.  We dumped our stuff in our KOA cabin (KMZ) and set out for the Flaming Gorge.  We were to ride down the east side of the reservoir and catch as many good looking roads as possible.  In 2003 we rode our street bikes down the west side of the reservoir.  The ride really begins south of I-80 on US191.  Traveling south on US191 we turned right on Little Firehole Rd meandering through the arid landscape trying to stay on course.  This was more difficult than we had anticipated since the roads were not marked all that well.  We made a wrong turn and found ourselves at a dead-end at the Green River far above the reservoir.  We backtracked a little while but soon found another road that looked promising and took it.  We had laid out a route but we quickly realized there was far too many good roads, and soon we applied the strategy of just going where the trails looked good.  We finally found ourselves back on Little Firehole Rd and took it to the Flaming Gorge campground.  There we found some trails high above overlooking the campground and reservoir.  We stopped for some pictures.  We continued on and found the old Cherokee Trail.  In 1873, "The United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories" made a survey of the area south of the Union Pacific Railroad. The Survey ran from Rock Springs and Green River, Wyoming, south to the White River in Utah and Colorado. The survey clearly shows a road running from Green River to Brown's Park. The trail was simply called "the Wagon Road from Green River City to Browns Park." Following what would become the principal route south to Brown's Park and later Vernal, the road traveled east along Bitter Creek then turned and followed Little Bitter Creek south to the top of Miller Mountain. The trail then descended Miller Mountain to Sage Creek near Maxon Ranch where it crossed this stream and traveled up the flanks of Little Mountain. The trail moved over the eastern flank of the mountain and descended into the Red Creek Badlands. Following Red Creek through Richards Gap the trail followed the creek through Red Creek Canyon and into Brown's Park. More than likely here in the Red Creek area the trail joined the Bryan to Brown's Park Road. The 1873 map does not indicate that the Green River trail ever went any farther south than Brown's Park.  We only traveled a small portion of the trail but it offered great scenery as we thought what it might have been like to have to walk this route.  The trail ended at the reservoir, probably where it used to cross the Green River before the days of the reservoir.  We stopped at the reservoir and took a quick dip in the frigid waters.  Afterward we continued in pursuit of the next challenge.  We found a trail and explored back deep in a canyon and came upon a trail we couldn't master.  There just was not enough room to navigate and gain speed to climb the hill.  We turned around with our tail between our legs and found another great spot high above the reservoir to stop.  We headed back to our campsite and decided to ride some of the trails we had spotted around the area.  As we began riding these local trails I tried going up hill Steve had just climbed.  I didn't make it but managed to turn my bike around.  The hill was rather steep and while my bike was on its side before I rode it back down I had unknowingly partially cracked my gear shifter.  Everything seemed ok at the time but I would soon find out I had a big problem.  We set up camp, did some swimming in the campground pool, and called it a night.  There wasn't much to do at the campground after dark.